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Villeneuve faces “robust” job in WEC, admits Vanwall Hypercar boss

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Villeneuve was introduced final month as one of many three drivers for the ByKolles-run Vanwall outfit’s return to the WEC with the brand new Vandervell 680 Le Mans Hypercar, alongside Tom Dillmann and Esteban Guerrieri.

It marks the newest chapter in a nomadic post-F1 profession for the 51-year-old Canadian driver, who made his final grand prix begin in 2006 and was part of Peugeot assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2007-08.

Since then he has raced in plenty of completely different collection together with Method E, the World Rallycross championship and NASCAR, additionally making a one-off return to the Indianapolis 500 in 2014 – 19 years on from his victory on the Brickyard.

Villeneuve had his first style of the Vanwall LMH in a check late final 12 months in Barcelona, however talking in a web-based press name organised by the WEC forward of subsequent month’s Sebring season opener, Kolles admits his new signing will likely be up towards it to be aggressive.

“To be sincere it was roughly a coincidence,” Kolles stated when requested to elucidate how the crew ended up signing Villeneuve by Autosport. “We’ve recognized one another for a few years from Method 1. And thru a standard buddy, we obtained in contact. 

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“He gave the impression to be very involved in going racing once more for a complete season. Due to this fact we organised this check at Barcelona and we invited him to see if he enjoys driving the automobile. As he did, we tried to discover a approach ahead to signal him and go on. 

“I believe it’s very Positive for us, the WEC, for everyone to have a Method 1 world champion, Indy automobile champion and Indianapolis 500 winner. 

“It is going to be robust, a good distance [for him to go], as a result of he has not had a lot mileage within the automobile. However now we have the Prologue [test] at Sebring, so we’re planning to present him essentially the most potential mileage and we’ll see how he develops.”

Vanwall Vandervell LMH, ByKolles Racing

Photograph by: Vanwall Group

Villeneuve’s inclusion within the Vanwall line-up got here on the expense of Joao Paulo de Oliveira, who was current for the Barcelona check and hoped to mix a minimum of a partial schedule within the WEC together with his Nissan commitments in Tremendous GT.

Kolles stated that de Oliveira can be a robust candidate to drive ought to Vanwall be granted a second entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

“JP is a buddy of ours, he was our driver [in Formula 3] as , we’ve recognized him for greater than 20 years,” stated Kolles. “He’s at all times a part of our community, and if now we have the opportunity of a second automobile for Le Mans, or for the longer term, JP is at all times an choice.”

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Kolles revealed the Vandervell LMH is about for its ultimate homologation check subsequent week earlier than the automobile heads to the Prologue for its first miles at Sebring.

“For positive Sebring is a really particular observe and we didn’t have a check there but,” he added. 

“We’re assured now we have a dependable package deal for regular tracks, however Sebring will likely be a shock possibly when it comes to efficiency and reliability. For us it’s extra of a shock than for others [that have tested at Sebring already].”

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